The protracted dispute over the fate of the Endau-Rompin rain-forest in southern Peninsular Malaysia is outlined. Attention is focused on why a proposal to create an Endau-Rompin national park was eventually abandoned, on what has been done of late to protect the wilderness region, and on what has been learned from the dispute. The main points are as follows:
1. Endau-Rompin is one of the last-remaining extensive tracts of largely undisturbed rain-forest in southern Peninsular Malaysia.
2. The Third Malaysia Plan 1976–1980 incorporated an earlier proposal to create a national park in the Endau-Rompin region.
3. A controversy erupted in 1977 when the state govern ment of Pahang approved a logging concession in the core area of the proposed park.
4. Logging ceased in 1978, but in spite of the preparation of a preliminary management plan and the passage of the National Parks Act (both in 1980), a national park was not created.
5. The 1985–6 ‘Malaysian Heritage and Scientific Expedition’ to Endau—Rompin focused a great deal of public attention on the wilderness region, but still a national park was not created.
6. In mid-1987 it was announced that there would be two adjoining state parks, not a national park, in the Endau-Rompin region.
7. The proposal to create a national park came to nothing because Pahang and Johor were unwilling to surrender their jurisdiction over their respective components of the required land to the Federal Government, and because the latter made no attempt to acquire the land in the national interest.
8. A state park has been established in the Johor part of the wilderness region, but the promised adjoining state park in Pahang has yet to be established. It would appear that the two parts of the protected area will be managed separately, with eco-tourism as an important focus.
9. For more than fifteen years the Malayan Nature Society has played a key role in the struggle to save the wilderness region.
10. The Endau-Rompin dispute revealed that NGOs such as the Malayan Nature Society can play a key role in the environmental arena, that ever-increasing competition for scarce natural resources makes it increasingly unlikely that new protected areas will be established, and that the protection and management of Malaysia's natural heritage is greatly confounded by the constitutional division of powers between the Federal and state governments.